Iran's Khamenei throws down hard line with protesters
On Friday, the supreme leader raised the stakes by giving Ahmadinejad full support and insisting that there was no fraud in the election.
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The supreme leader's sharp labeling of the protesters could open the way for a much fiercer crackdown by Iran's array of security forces if protests continue. Khamenei warned the political elite that if they wanted to "break the law," they should "see the enemy working. They should see the hungry wolves. I suggest they open their eyes and see the enemy."Skip to next paragraph
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"What are we going to do now? Go out and get killed?" asked an observer in Tehran sympathetic to the Mousavi camp after hearing Khameini. "He gave a clear green light to the thugs of the basiji to kill, and the responsibility is on our shoulders."
"We have all lost trust and hope in the [Islamic] system," says the observer. "He knows how dangerous that is. He said it in the sermon."
No 'doubtful victory'
Khamenei said that "enemies" had tried to depict Iran's "definitive victory as a doubtful victory" by leveling charges of fraud. But the near 85 percent turnout, he said, was a resounding vote for Iran's Islamic system of government that was now "recorded in history."
Forty million Iranians voted, and "this might be considered as worship for many of these people," said Khamenei. "People should know: the Islamic establishment will never manipulate people's votes and commit treason."
Mr. Mousavi and the other two defeated candidates say the result is in doubt, because of the unprecedented speed of the count, the lack of independent oversight locally, the lack of published local results – which are typically made public – and by the extraordinary 11 million-vote gap that gave a 2-to-1 victory for the controversial Mr. Ahmadinejad over Mousavi.
Instead of a reason for doubt, said Khamenei, that gap was a reason to believe the result.
"If the difference was 100,000 or 500,000 or 1 million, well, one may say fraud could have happened. But how can one rig 11 million votes?" he asked.
"Some may imagine that street action will create political leverage against the system and force the authorities to give into threats," Khamenei said. "No, this is wrong."
Clerics to meet defeated candidates
The Guardian Council, a 12-member body of clerics, is examining 646 complaints of irregularities, and will meet defeated candidates on Saturday. But the supreme leader made clear the result would not change. Though normally above politics, the leader gave unequivocal support to Ahmadinejad.
Speaking of all four candidates, Khamenei said: "They have differences of opinion on foreign affairs, on how to implement social justice. And they have differences of opinion on some social issues. But I believe the views of the president is closer to what it should be."
The man who has the ultimate say on all key issues in Iran also complained about the Western leaders and media interfering in Iran's affairs. He mischaracterized President Barack Obama's low-profile statements, perhaps signaling that Mr. Obama's recent overtures are not likely to be reciprocated for awhile.
Obama said, "We were waiting to see people on the streets," Khamenei asserted. Noting that Obama had also sent a message about "respect" and "wanting ties," Khamenei asked: "Which should we believe?"